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DataPlay Sees Sept. Delivery Of 1st Products

LAS VEGAS -Thirty-five vendors will show about 55 products or concepts in six product categories based on the 500MB write-once DataPlay discs in the first-ever DataPlay pavilion at CES this week.

According to information from DataPlay, the first of these products will start arriving on store shelves in September. At that time, Universal Music Group and EMI Music Group plan to offer prerecorded DataPlay discs for playback on portable music players, said DataPlay marketing VP Ray Uhlir.

DataPlay confirmed the target price for the quarter-size disc will be $5 to $12, depending on whether they’re purchased singly or in packages of three or five. DataPlay is in the process of developing a 250MB version of the disc.

The first products to ship will include digital cameras and portable music players, Uhlir said.

The companies participating in the pavilion range from the well-known Samsung, Toshiba and Creative Labs to OEM manufacturers and start-ups. Some companies will display products on their road map for introduction this year. Others, such as Creative Labs, intend to show mock-ups of current flash memory-based products that could be adapted to use DataPlay discs.

“We are assessing what’s viable,” said a Creative Labs spokesman. “We want to find out what the industry thinks of DataPlay, and then decide what to do.”

Among the products on display, he said, will be music portables from 16 companies, including Creative Labs, CMC, Pine, Samsung, Sensory Science and Sonicblue. The other companies are OEM manufacturers, including eDigital, Eiger, MP Man, Ritek, Sewon and Varo.

S3, maker of the Diamond Rio, is the lone company with firm plans to roll out a DataPlay-based device. S3 and Toshiba have a financial stake in the DataPlay.

Samsung will also show a USB peripheral drive, PC Card drive, headphone music player/recorder, and boombox-style music player/recorder, Uhlir said. Handspring will show a Data-Play drive that slips into the Springboard slot of its PDA. SongPro and start-up Excalibur will each show a portable gaming device, he said.

As for prerecorded music discs, Uhlir expects “hundreds” in September from EMI and Universal. “We’re close to closing with other major labels, too,” he added.

Prerecorded discs will be priced along the lines of CDs, but unlike CDs, consumers will be able to pay extra to unlock hidden music at a later date.

At the show, DataPlay will demonstrate EMI music compressed in the Windows Media Audio format, and Universal music will be demonstrated in AAC, but the music companies haven’t finalized their codec plans, nor have they selected specific titles yet, Uhlir said.

For its part, a Sonicblue spokesman said his company doesn’t plan at CES to show a DataPlay-equipped Backpack, which snaps onto Rio 600 and 800 music portables. Sonicblue, however, has plans for first-half shipments of a Backpack that incorporates an IBM 140MB Microdrive hard drive. That, too, won’t be shown at CES, he said.